Course Discourse: Fidelity Investments $406,000 CSI 5* Grand Prix

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2022 – This week we are back under the lights for the first 5* Grand Prix of the season. The feature class will be the Fidelity Investments $406,000 CSI 5* Grand Prix and we have 40 qualified to start and all 40 will compete tonight.

Course Designer: Kelvin Bywater (GBR)

Our course designer for the week has been Kelvin Bywater (GBR) and he is no stranger to the international ring in Wellington. He is one of my favorite course designers and a long time personal friend. In the qualifier he got 12 clear rounds over a very challenging course with a big and technical course along with a fair time allowed. I believe there were a total of 57 entries in the qualifier. The weather all week has been great for show jumping with reasonable temperatures and no rain. The weather tonight is perfect. There is a sellout crowd on hand and expectations are high for superior show jumping. The list of riders and their mounts is to say the least daunting. The number of high ranked riders is the best it has ever been. Kelvin will be put to the test tonight to create the proper test for a 5* and challenge this great field of horses and riders.

Fidelity Investments $406,000 CSI 5* Grand Prix Course

The course tonight will feature 14 numbered obstacles with 17 efforts. On the course we will have a triple and double combination, a wall, 2 short pole verticals, a plank vertical and 2 liverpools. There is no open water and no triple bar. The time allowed is set at 80 seconds and will remain at 80 seconds. With the new rule that has these FEI classes going with a random draw for the jump order you will see that the random draw is a really good change from the previous draw that was based on rider ranking points. If you want to see some of the best in the world compete you have to be in your seats for the start of the class. On my walk of the course before the start I spoke with Kelvin about the first fence and remarked that back in the day as course designers we were instructed to provide an encouraging ramped oxer is an oxer was the first jump. Times have changed and the first fence tonight is a reasonably big square oxer. Competitors coming onto the course tonight must be prepared right from the beginning. The course for the CSI 5* $406,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix is big and busy and ready to be walked.

Jump #1

#1 oxer 1.47/1.47m or 4.11/4.11ft is placed at the far end of the ring and may be in the most shaded area of the arena. It is constructed of mainly black material. There is no give in this jump and the very first entry had his night cut short as did a total of 3 riders.

Jump #2

#2 the wall 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the left turn and for the second week in a row was not a problem for anyone. This is not a complaint but I think we need to see a new wall. A wall that looks like a wall and not Swiss cheese would be nice.

Jump #3

#3 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes from #2 in a straight line with a distance off 20.50m or 87ft and will not make the statistic count as it was not faulted tonight. #2, #3 and #11 were the only obstacles to remain intact on the evening and is a great sign that the course was tough throughout. I failed in the walk last week to point out that the 4* on the grass delivered almost the same statistic as there were only 2 fences that were not faulted.

Jump #4

#4 Plank vertical 1.61m or 5.3ft comes from #3 on the right turn and kissed mother earth 6 times.

Jump #5A

#5a oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #4 in straight line with a distance of 30.20m or 90ft and only 2 poles rained down from the heavens.

Jump #5B

#5b vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #5a with a distance of 11.30 or 37ft and was  tossed to the turf 3 times.

Jump #5C

#5c oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #5b with a distance of 8.05m or 26.6ft and only 1 competitor went to the showers early.

Jump #6

#6 oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #5c on the right rein and towards the in-gate at this obstacle we saw a refusal that resulted in a fall and therefore elimination. There were 3 rails that fell on the floor as well.

Jump #7

#7 short pole vertical 1.62m or 5.4ft comes from #6 across the mouth of the in-gate in a straight line with a distance of 21.35m or 70ft and was damaged 3 times.

Jump #8

#8 narrow oxer 1.56/1.35m or 5/4.4ft comes on the right turn back towards the in-gate and fell from grace 3 times.

Jump #9

#9 Liverpool oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #8 on the left dog leg turn made with 10ft or 3.0m poles and was the avenger (bogy fence) tonight with 11 splash downs. When the turn is more acute and not a soft bend it becomes a much larger accuracy problem. Soft bending lines present a much easier question.

Jump #10A

#10a vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes in a straight line from #9 with a distance of 23.60m or 77ft and gravity took 6 poles to the dirt. There were 2 refusals recorded here but they were the result of the riders choosing to withdraw from the course.

Jump #10B

#10b oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #10a with a distance of 8.05m or 26.6ft and was faulted only 1 time.

Jump #11

#11 oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #10b on the right turn and needed no repairs on the evening.

Jump #12

#12 closed Liverpool vertical 1.63m or 5.4ft comes from #11 on a strong bending right rein with a distance of 31.40m or 103ft and 3 poles went to the bottom of the pool.

Jump #13

#13 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #12 in a straight line with a distance of 18.60m or 61 ft.  3 rails fell from the yellow cups.

Jump #14

#14 short pole vertical 1.63m or 5.5ft comes from #13 on a soft bending rein with a distance of 28.95m or 95ft and as the last fence in the first round tonight it also ended the night for 2 competitors.

The final results will show that there will be 8 riders advancing to the jump off. There were 2 competitors with only 1 time fault, 11 rides with 4 faults, 2 with 5 and 3 with 8 faults. The rest will jump another day. We had 1 fall caused by a refusal resulting in elimination. There were 5 VWs.

I think that this grand prix, the CSI 5* $406,000 Fidelity Investments was everything that the spectators came to see. The course was big and wide using the scope of the rules for a 5*and technical enough to test the rider and horse. It is always nice to see that the triple combination was not the leading test to achieve faults. The ride to the Liverpool oxer (#9) was the main test on the course. The dogleg turn with no given distance made the ride a little different for every rider and the jump was big enough and wide enough to test the scope of every horse. There were only 3 jumps to remain undefeated on the course and I think that demonstrates from start to finish there were questions for every rider. The scope of the modern horse is amazing when you watch a rider and horse do 3 strides in a line that measured 18.60m or 61ft. 2 were successful and 1 was not. The TA was so accurate that you could say perfect. There was no extra time but just enough to get the job done within the given time. I want to mention again the new rule that has a random draw as the process to establish the order of go. This method is by far the best to way to create a balanced order of go so the spectators are entertained throughout the first round. Tonight we had 5 clear rounds with 3 clear in the first 6 rides but only 2 in the next 16. That took us to the midway break and then only 3 clear in the second half. I stayed in my seat and was entertained for the whole first round. My congratulations go out to Kelvin Bywater (GBR) and his crew for a great 5* Grand Prix. I know we will see you again next year. That is a wrap for week 5 of WEF. Until next week I am Dave Ballard. 

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed